Tire strategy was crucial says Bridgestone
Bridgestone Potenza slick tires made their grand prix return in the Australian Grand Prix where Jenson Button made the perfect debut for the Brawn GP team by using a medium-medium-super soft tire strategy to win the first race of the season run to Formula One’s exciting new regulations.
Button took his race win leading team-mate Rubens Barrichello and Panasonic Toyota Racing driver Jarno Trulli across the line, however Trulli was later penalized for passing whilst behind the safety car, and fourth across the line Lewis Hamilton (Vodafone McLaren Mercedes) was awarded third. Barrichello used the same strategy as Button, whilst Hamilton started on the super soft tire and twice changed to the medium. The latest specification cars and Bridgestone’s slick tires meant an exciting and challenging 58 laps in Albert Park with the different performance of Bridgestone’s two compounds one of the talking points of the event.
Q&A with Hirohide Hamashima, Bridgestone Director of Motorsport Tire Development
How was the first race of 2009 from Bridgestone’s perspective?
“Firstly, congratulations to Jenson Button and the Brawn GP team for winning and Rubens Barrichello for coming second in an exceptionally exciting race. Congratulations too, to the FIA for the new regulations and the teams for developing such exciting and quick new cars. This was a significant race as it shows that the changes for 2009 have made a big difference for Formula One. Bridgestone’s slick tires and our new allocation philosophy gave competitors a lot to think about and some managed better than others. Tire strategy was crucial to making up places, and the key to getting a good result here was having a good setup with the super soft tire as the performance of this tire dropped off very quickly. The medium tire was very robust and allowed good strategy and setup options for teams.”
What did you think of the different tire strategies used?
“This was the first race for teams with our new tires so there were many different approaches over the weekend. From Saturday’s data we knew that the super soft tire was around 1.2 seconds faster than the medium over its first flying lap so those who started on the super soft had a good advantage at the beginning. However, those who used the super soft for their last stint benefitted from the improved track surface due to rubber laid during the race. We predicted that the super soft tire would be around 5-6 seconds slower if it was used from the start of the race until half distance, which is why we did not see many long stints on this tire.”
Felipe Massa: Super Soft / Medium / Medium / DNF
Kimi Räikkönen: Super Soft / Medium / Medium / Super Soft / DNF
Lewis Hamilton: Super Soft / Medium / Medium
Heikki Kovalainen: Medium / DNF
Robert Kubica: Super Soft / Medium / Medium / DNF
Nick Heidfeld: Medium / Medium / Medium / Super Soft
Fernando Alonso: Medium / Medium / Super Soft
Nelson Piquet: Medium / Medium / DNF
Jarno Trulli: Super Soft / Medium / Medium
Timo Glock: Medium / Medium / Super Soft
Sébastien Bourdais: Super Soft / Medium / Medium
Sébastien Buemi: Medium / Medium / Super Soft
Mark Webber: Medium / Medium / Super Soft
Sebastian Vettel: Medium / Medium / Super Soft / DNF
Nico Rosberg: Medium / Medium / Super Soft
Kazuki Nakajima: Medium / DNF
Adrian Sutil: Medium / Medium / Super Soft / Medium
Giancarlo Fisichella: Medium / Medium / Super Soft
Jenson Button: Medium / Medium / Super Soft
Rubens Barrichello: Medium / Medium / Super Soft